Inevitably with a pandemic there are issues and questions being asked about absenteeism. There will, of course, be some Corona Virus related absence and it is perhaps good to review the kind of questions being asked, and what the answers are.
Statutory sick pay is now £95.85 per week. Usual qualifying conditions apply. So, four days (continuous counting) of illness makes an employee eligible for SSP. Where employees are ill with Corona Virus, then they are entitled to SSP from the first day of absence. In other cases of sickness absence employees are eligible for SSP from the fourth day of absence in line with the normal rules. Qualifying days are days that you are off sick that you would normally have worked. If you are eligible for statutory sick pay, then you will be paid for any qualifying days you are off sick, less the first three days of your illness. These three days are known as ‘waiting days’. You may be paid for waiting days in the event you have been off sick and in receipt of SSP in the immediately prior 8 weeks where waiting days were included in that time.
If somebody is self-isolating because someone in the household has Corona Virus symptoms and can therefore not work, they will be entitled to SSP from day 1. The household requirement now covers those in extended or linked households. Likewise, those employees who are self-isolating as a result of being in contact with someone who has tested positive for CV 19, this only applies where they’ve been notified by the NHS or public health authorities that there has been a Covid contact. In each of the above cases, you must self-isolate for at least four days to qualify for SSP.
Those self-isolating after travel do not fall into the self-isolation categories.
For those shielding, Government guidance has confirmed that the shielding period is due to end on the 1st August, but the law does allow for the shielding to be reinstated if appropriate.
Those who are not covered by a shielding notice will need to seek a specific medial certificate by the GP, certifying their unfitness for work, if they wish to claim SSP.
An employee cannot be both furloughed and in receipt of SSP
Those employers who have occupational and contractual sick pay schemes must adhere to the wording in the contracts and this would apply to any inability to attend work.
Some employers are choosing to extend sick pay schemes to include self-isolating employees to encourage Government guidance compliance.
The rules regarding non-Corona related absence and certification from the 8th calendar day by a fit note (medical certificate) still apply.
There are practical difficulties in some cases in obtaining a medical certificate and therefore employees can provide as evidence an online note from NHS 111 where they are advised to shield.
In any event, if you have staff absent from the office due to illness, both management and employees should continue to follow good absentee management processes around notification, communication and likely return to work. If you have questions about the entitlements of your staff to SSP or the necessary qualifying periods, please contact us for further guidance.